Bragging at Bombonada
Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer
Bragging rights are in play – you’ll need to grab a fork.
Ten blocks north of La Casa de Mofongo, the culinary institution that has arguably elevated the traditional plantain dish of mofongo to celebrity status, a newcomer is slinging a different kind of mash.
Bombonada, the storefront restaurant located at 192nd and St. Nicholas Avenue, offers a host of lunch and dinner selections, including sandwiches, burgers, grilled chicken and steak. Some are hearty dishes to fill the most ravenous appetite; others are the perfect pick for a quick bite.
But it is its miniature take on one most traditional dish that is causing waves, as fans flock to Bombonada’s doors for the savory new treat.
The restaurant’s mini-mofonguito is not only smaller than its prototype, but offers a deconstructed take of the Latin Caribbean dish.
Take for instance the pollo y chicharron (chicken and fried pork) mini-mofonguito. Rather than combining all the ingredients into one dish, the chicken and fried pork rest snugly in a cradle fashioned from fried plantains. Beyond the traditional criollo flavors of garlic and onion, the mini-mofonguitos are topped with ketchup, mayo and cheddar cheese, which add tang and moisture.
Moreover, the meat, seafood and vegetable selections at Bombonada stand on their own. While other mofongo dishes are often prepared to use up leftover bits of meat, which are sometimes dry or tough, the mofongo ingredients are Bombonada are fully seasoned and are grilled and sautéed with care. The results are juicy, hearty strips of perfectly prepared slices of chicken, seafood, meat, pork and vegetables to accompany the plantains.
As structured, the mofonguito’s layers offer different textures and flavors one at a time, starting with the velvety cheese, and ending with the salty crunch of the fried plantain.
Good things come in threes at Bombonada, as every mini-mofonguito dish is made of three small plantain cups filled with the meat or vegetable of your choice. And while having three little pieces might make for a shorter dining experience than digging into their larger sibling, it means more time for people-watching at the bustling restaurant, which is known to get very busy later in the evening.
Bombonada has been operating for a little over a year, and has already drawn a loyal following, including Henry Encarnación, and his son, Henry Jr.
One recent Friday afternoon, the two shared smiles as they dug into a cheese empanada.
“They are delicious,” said Encarnación Sr., who also enjoyed a freshly pressed cherry juice, another of the restaurant’s popular offerings.
While noting that the mini-mofonguitos are wildly popular, employee Yaquenia Vargas said that the empanadas and quesadillas were also not to be overlooked.
“They’re good,” she explained. “A combination of sweet and savory.”
You can’t go wrong.
1636 St. Nicholas Avenue
New York, NY 10040